It’s my routine every evening. Before I retire for the night I let both dogs go outside. They do their thing, always eager to come back inside for their night-time treats. Last night was meant to be no different. They went out. The puppy came bounding in doing all of his new tricks to earn his doggie treat. Blackie (aka “Jackie”) didn’t return.
It was raining outside so I figured he must have needed a little more time since he should have been very eager to come in to the warm, dry house. After a few minutes I called him again. No response. Today was trash day in our town, so I surmised that perhaps he was sniffing out a few cans, or checking out the fire hydrants. Thirty minutes went by – still no response. This is when my imagination kicked in. I pictured him in the mouth of a coyote, cornered by angry skunks, stuck in a fence, or even sleeping beside a pot-bellied pig at a neighbor’s house. (That had happened with a dog we had when she had stayed out all night)
Last night, as it neared midnight I was faced with a conundrum. Should I go searching, or just wait for his return? I scoped out the usual places and loudly called his name (sorry neighbors)- but still no Blackie. I knew I had a busy day today, so crawled into bed and tried to fall asleep – to no avail. What if he was hurt, lost, or in trouble? I prayed, and then watched some restaurant intervention show with a new plan to check the front door at every commercial. I went to the door time and time again…and this is what I saw. Yes, nothing! It was such a sad, disappointing sight. I kept envisioning the fluffly little ball of fur at the door but kept seeing …nothing. 1:00am – nothing. 1:30am – nothing. 2:00am – nothing.
I got to thinking about how God feels when waiting for me to “show up” with him when I get busy in the morning, or distracted from time with him in prayer and in His word. I can at times take time spent with God for granted, and exchange the important for the urgent. Perhaps the most convicting, piercing scripture to me is from Luke 10:38-42
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.  She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.  But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things,  but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
I recently read an article from Robert Boyd Munger’s “My Heart Christ’s Home”. While some parts I felt were lacking scripturally the following paragraphs moved me deeply as the author described a conversation with Jesus as he visited different rooms of our heart.
We walked next into the drawing room. This room was rather intimate and comfortable. I liked it. It had a fireplace, overstuffed chairs, a bookcase, sofa, and a quiet atmosphere.
He (Jesus) also seemed pleased with it. He said, “This is indeed a delightful room. Let us come here often. It is secluded and quiet and we can have fellowship together.”…
He promised, “I will be here every morning early. Meet with me here and we will start the day together.” So, morning after morning, I would come downstairs into the drawing room and He would take a book of the Bible…open it and we would read together. He would tell me of its riches and unfold to me its truths…They were wonderful hours together. …
But little by little, under the pressure of many responsibilities, this time began to be shortened…I began to miss a day now and then….I would miss it two days in a row and often more.
I remember one day when I was in a hurry….As I passed the drawing room, the door was ajar. Looking in I saw a fire in the fireplace and the Lord sitting there….”Blessed Master, forgive me. Have you been here all these mornings?”
“Yes,” He said. “I told you I would be here every morning to meet with you.” Then I was even more ashamed. He had been faithful in spite of my faithfulness. I asked His forgiveness and He readily forgave me…
He said, “The trouble with you is this: You have been thinking of the quiet time, of the Bible study and prayer time, as a factor in your own spiritual progress, but you have forgotten that this hour means something to Me also.”
I think I sort of fell asleep for a couple of hours and then at 4:30am checked the door again…Blackie was there at the door, wet – and acting as if nothing had happened. I then fell sound asleep. He was home, out of harm’s way.
It’s such an amazing privilege to spend time with God… and I know how deeply I need it. Often, just showing up is the beginning of my growth. Not only does “not showing up” make me vulnerable, but I can fail to see that this time matters to him. Amazing.